March 9, 2022

Raised Sidewalks & Other Ways to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents in NYC

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

Each year there are thousands of pedestrian accidents in NYC, with more than 250 resulting in fatal injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Many of these pedestrian accidents can be avoided, and New York City is taking action to do just that. Here’s how NYC is working to prevent pedestrian accidents that pose a threat to those walking on our city streets.

NYC Initiatives to Improve Pedestrian Safety

To reduce pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries, NYC has presented multiple initiatives.

Vision Zero Pedestrian Safety Action Plans in New York

Vision Zero was an effort initiated by NYC in 2015 to eliminate all fatal traffic crashes, including those involving motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. In 2019, NYC updated Vision Zero as it relates to pedestrians. The Vision Zero Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plan pinpoints risks that cause pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries.

Some of the actions that NYC is taking with the Vision Zero Pedestrian Safety Action Plan include:

  • Adding pedestrian crossing time to intersections by adjusting traffic lights
  • Launching speed reducer programs that have speed humps and speed cushions
  • Tracking Vision Zero violations throughout the city
  • Improving officer visibility in priority areas where pedestrian accidents often occur
  • Conducting a comprehensive study of senior pedestrian injuries
  • Improving the safety of pedestrians regarding commercial waste fleets

Improving Intersections to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents

According to NBC New York, more than 50% of pedestrian deaths and 70% of all injuries occur at intersections. NYC is investing in a new pedestrian safety initiative that targets intersections throughout the city to rectify the situation.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will work to make design improvements to 1,000 intersections to make them safer for pedestrians. This includes improving traffic signals, crosswalks, and other pedestrian visibility measures.

Additionally, the NYPD will begin more strict enforcement of laws against people who fail to recognize pedestrians’ right of way in crosswalks. Officers will also monitor speed within the city and near intersections.

Intersection Design Considerations to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents

One of NYC’s primary goals is to improve intersection design to reduce pedestrian accidents. There is merit that this will work because many of the causes of pedestrian accidents involve intersection design that inhibits visibility or causes confusion.

Some of the improvements to intersection design in NYC include:

  • Increase in the number of pedestrian traffic signals
  • Increase in the amount of time traffic signals allow pedestrians to cross intersections
  • Improved signage in intersections
  • Addition of speed humps and speed cushions
  • Reduced speed limits in intersections
  • Increased enforcement of pedestrian right of way in crosswalks
  • More visibility of crosswalks
  • Raised crosswalks that are the same level as the sidewalks
  • Physical upgrades to bike lanes to reduce bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents

These improvements and other traffic safety and infrastructure changes will cost the city approximately $904 million, according to Mayor Eric Adams. This investment will be made over the next five years.

A Multi-Faceted Approach Can Reduce Pedestrian Accidents

NYC has realized that it must handle pedestrian accidents in more than one way. That’s why its initiatives have so many targets. However, they all work to achieve the same goal – fewer pedestrian accidents and injuries.

The initiatives presented by NYC will likely work if the city continues to provide resources to achieve those goals. It’s necessary to combine outreach, education, and enforcement, which can be costly.

How to Stay Safe as a Pedestrian in NYC

While NYC works to improve safety for pedestrians, there are some actions that people who walk in the city can take as well.

  • Use sidewalks – Sidewalks are the safest place to walk. When they are not available, you should walk as far left as possible, facing oncoming road traffic.
  • Make sure you are visible – Wear light colors and reflective material when you walk in NYC, especially if you are on foot at night. If you are in a dark area, carry a flashlight.
  • Remain alert – Keep an eye out for cars and bikes around you. Don’t get distracted by your cell phone and avoid wearing headphones or earbuds while you walk along NYC streets.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs – In many pedestrian accidents, both the pedestrian and the motor vehicle driver have alcohol in their system. Don’t walk along streets if you are inebriated.
  • Use crosswalks and traffic lights – When crossing streets, ensure you are in a crosswalk and only cross when the traffic signal indicates you have the right of way. If these things aren’t available, cross at a corner when the traffic light is green in front of you.
  • Look all ways – Maintain a lookout for cars on all sides of you. You should look both left and right and behind you, as a car may come from behind and turn in front of you.
  • Watch out for parked vehicles – You might not see immediate danger when a vehicle is parked; however, drivers have limited view when backing out of parking spots, and this can cause a collision.

Legal Options If You Are Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, you have options. The at-fault person should be held responsible for the damages that they caused.

Pedestrian vs. Car Accidents

If a motor vehicle hit you when you were walking in NYC, their car insurance company will be liable for your damages. You can file a car accident claim and submit proof of your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. However, insurance companies are notorious for delaying and denying claims, even when those claims are valid. You should reach out to a lawyer who can ensure your rights are protected.

Pedestrian vs. Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle riders often fail to look for pedestrians and may cause an accident. When a bike rider is responsible for your injuries, it can be hard to figure out how to get compensation. You may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against them directly. When you consult with a personal injury lawyer, you can learn more about your options after a bike vs. pedestrian accident.

It’s Important to Keep Roads Safe for Pedestrians

NYC and cities throughout the world have recognized the risks that pedestrians face. Authorities are taking action to rectify the potential for accidents that often lead to fatalities and serious injuries.

If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you will likely have many questions. Call a pedestrian accident lawyer to get answers.